Sunday, February 28, 2010


Dear Megs,

I made croissants this weekend! I've never tried one of these fancy pastry doughs before, and though it's kind of an all day endeavor, it's really not complicated or even hard. You just need to be around and deal with it every 45 minutes or so. However, for the amount of work it requires, it does seem like kind of a small return, so next time I make these, I will probably make several batches at once. More work, yes, but apparently the dough freezes well, and, these were DELICIOUS.

The recipe I used is from the Williams and Sonoma baking bible, The Essentials of Baking, which I love because it has lots of scientific explanations of baking stuff, about why things work the way they do and such. Mine
didn't double in size when rising, which W & S attributes to the butter in the dough being too warm and making the layers stick together, but I don't think that was the case because they also say that the way to recognize the butter being to warm is that it oozes out the sides, which it didn't. But in the end it didn't matter because the result was light and flaky and so, soooooo good.


2 t active dry yeast
2 T sugar
3 T warm water
1 t salt
2 T cooled melted butter
1 c cold whole milk
2 1/2 c flour

1 c butter
2 T flour

1 egg
1 T whole milk

1 - Mix yeast, water, and a pinch of sugar until dissolved, let stand until foamy.
2 - Mix yeast mixture, the remaining sugar, salt, butter, milk, and 1/2c of flour with a wooden spoon (or your new Kitchenaid!) until blended.
3 - Add remaining flour 1/2c at a time, until just blended each time. Dough will be very sticky. Do not overblend, or it will lose some of that final lightness.
4 - Roll into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 45 minutes or so.

1 - Use a rolling pin or the heel of your hand to warm butter and shape it into a 6x8 inch rectangle. This means you can't use room temperature butter, though that would be easier to shape; you need to be able to pick it up. As you shape, press the flour into the surface of the butter. If it gets too warm (oozy), stick it in the fridge for a few minutes until it has firmed.

1 - The process by which you work butter into the dough for this type of pastry or for puff pastry is called laminating. The butter should be firm but pliable, the dough should not be allowed to warm enough to get sticky again.
2 - Place the chilled dough rectangle on your work surface with the short end toward you. Put the chilled butter package at the base of the dough rectangle, leaving 1/2 inch border of dough, and fold the top over, pressing dough together to seal.
3 - Roll into a 10x24 in rectangle, and then fold the bottom third up and the top third down as if folding a letter. Cover in plastic and return to fridge for 45 minutes. This is the first turn.
4 - Repeat last step 3 times for a total of 4 turns, and then return dough to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

1 - Roll the dough into a 9x18 in rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise, then cut each half crosswise into 4 squares, for a total of 8 squares. Cut each square in half diagonally.
2 - Butter your baking pans (no Pam this time - not after all that work!). Stretch each triangle to about twice its original length, and stretch the wide end of the triangle even further. Place the dough on the work surface with the point facing you and, grasping the wide end, roll dough toward point, turn the ends in slightly.
3 - Place on baking sheet about 3 inches apart. Cover with a dishtowel and allow to rise until doubled in size, about an hour and a half.
4 - Preheat oven to 425.
5 - Brush dough with egg/mild mixture and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

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